Leader says Iowa Guard “stretched & stressed”

Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis delivered the annual "Condition of the Guard" address this morning at the Iowa statehouse.  The title on the front page of the text was the following:  "The Iowa National Guard – From Prairie Soldier to Global Minuteman, a legacy of service”  The text of his speech is below.

Thank you very much for that warm welcome.

I’m honored once again to stand before you and report on the Condition of the Iowa National Guard. 

A Guard that has evolved from a territorial militia, formed to provide collective security on the American frontier, to a full-spectrum operational force prepared to defend our state and nation during an age of persistent conflict. 

For more than 170 years, generations of Iowans mustered from throughout our communities to carry on this Prairie Soldier legacy, serving through a Civil War, domestic emergencies and disasters, World Wars, and ideological struggles. 

Today, these Global Minutemen, like those who came before, carry on this proud legacy, serving their state and answering our Nation’s call to duty here at home and around the globe.

Speaker Murphy, President Kibbie – thank you for inviting me to provide this update.  It is a great honor for me to appear before this joint convention of the eight-second General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature.

The Iowa National Guard is indeed fortunate to have this opportunity to highlight our issues, tell our story and above all thank you and all the citizens of Iowa for the overwhelming and enduring support of our men and women in uniform.  We could not succeed without it.

I also want to thank and recognize your colleague, our comrade-in-arms, Representative Ray Zirkelbach, a proud member of the longest serving unit in the history of the Global War on Terror – the “Ironman” Battalion, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Iowa Army National Guard!

Sgt. Zirkelbach: I’m sure you don’t get tired of hearing it, and I certainly never tire of saying it to our returning Warriors – Welcome home! 

Good to have you back home with your family, friends and the Iowa Guard Team.  I thank you for your extraordinary service and for your family’s tremendous sacrifice on behalf of our state and nation.  Thank you for a job well done!

Governor Culver, members of the General Assembly, distinguished quests and fellow Iowans:

Last year I reported the condition of the Iowa National Guard was strong – the strongest it had been in generations.  Today, I stand by that assessment.  We are a battle-hardened and respected fighting force that continues to carry out our federal, state and community missions with vigor and determination.   

Yet, six years of war and more than 10,000 mobilized Soldiers and Airmen leaves no doubt we are an organization that is stretched and stressed.  We see it in the faces of our Warriors sent off on their second, and in some cases, third deployments since 9-11; we see it in our families, asked to endure lengthy and in some cases repeated separations; and we see it in returning Soldiers and Airmen, struggling to reintegrate with their families and routines of their daily lives.

Ladies and Gentlemen: this is what keeps me awake at night.  I worry so much for the health and well-being of our Soldiers and Airmen and their families.  We are trying to assist in every way possible and yet it never seems like enough.   

These are indeed challenging times for the one percent of Americans who proudly serve their nation in uniform.  And it is increasingly true for the Soldiers and Airmen of the Iowa National Guard, who make up nearly two percent of our nation’s National Guard forces. 

Our military is not weak or hollow; it is not broken.  It remains the preeminent military power in the world.  And I want you and the citizens of Iowa to know, that the Iowa National Guard stands ready to meet anticipated state and federal mission requirements. 

What we don’t know and what most concerns senior leaders is this: “Where is the breaking point?”

As Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said recently: "The well is deep, but it is not infinite."  Yet, in this age of persistent conflict, the demands on our military will not subside in the near future. 

Protracted confrontation among state, non-state and individual actors willing to use violence to achieve political and ideological objectives will likely  increase as trends in globalization, technological developments, shifts in demographics, competition for resources, and climate change continue to create friction among nations and throughout diverse populations. 

The enduring lesson of 9-11 is that try as we might, we can’t wish this reality away, or close our eyes to the threat it poses to our national interest and domestic tranquility. 

Whether we like it or not, a network of global extremists are at war against our country and it is clear they seek to exploit those trends to challenge our security. 

Some of you may be saying: “Okay, that’s an interesting comment on the current national security debate, but what does it have to do with the Iowa National Guard?”

The answer is: everything! 

When we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, we had to respond with a Cold War Army reduced in size by more than 300,000 Soldiers from its Cold War peak, ill-suited and unprepared for the type of conflict thrust upon us.

We were in that position as a result of decisions made during the previous decade to cash the peace dividend and drawdown our military forces by nearly two-thirds.

The Cold War was over; we had won.  We basked in the glow of an overwhelming victory in Operation Desert Storm.  We scanned the horizon for peer competitors and saw none.  Reductions in defense spending made sense. 

However well-intentioned these reductions seemed at the time, today we are paying the price for those decisions. 

When this decade began, the active Army was in desperate need of organizational change and transformation.  The same was true for the Army National Guard.  It was configured and resourced as a strategic reserve unprepared and ill-equipped for the demands that would soon come its way. 

Accelerated security demands brought by the Global War on Terror forced the country to do what it has always done in times of military necessity – turn to the National Guard.  And the National Guard responded in numbers unprecedented since World War II, at one time providing more than half the combat power in Iraq.  The Iowa National Guard contributed its share, mobilizing more than 100 percent of its authorized strength during the past six years.

Looking back it is fair to say that those brave Americans fighting in this global war on terror, and their families, paid for the Cold War peace dividend with their blood, sweat and tears.  And the men and women serving in the National Guard, especially, the Iowa National Guard, were no exception.

Inadequate funding for personnel, equipment and training forced the Army National Guard to cross-level units within and across state boundaries, severely impacting future unit and individual readiness.  This practice did and continues to have a detrimental impact on Iowa National Guard readiness. 

In order to overcome these challenges, the Army and its reserve components accelerated transformation and rebalancing efforts.

This is a positive development.  If properly trained and equipped, the National Guard can add much-needed depth to our active component forces at a fraction of the cost.  Currently, the Guard provides more than a third of the Army and Air Forces’ force structure, yet consumes only seven percent of the resources needed to fund active duty forces.

And keep in mind that the dollars invested in the National Guard provide twice the benefit because its capabilities are immediately available to the Governor in times of domestic emergencies and natural disasters. 

Once transformation and rebalancing of the Army National Guard is complete, there will be 112 brigades, including 28 Brigade Combat Teams, 46 Multifunctional brigades and 38 functional brigade formations in the Army National Guard.  This rebalancing plan has created unique opportunities to station complete units, to the extent possible, within state boundaries.  Iowa is a Brigade Combat Team state, home to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division; nearly a full brigade combat team is headquartered in Boone, with supporting units stationed across the state.

This realignment and re-stationing improves command and control of these units and greatly enhances our ability to meet manning, equipping, training and mobilization requirements.  While this is a positive development for the Iowa National Guard, it will create future challenges.

When the 2nd BCT is called to active duty, and that time will come, given the current security requirements, it will be a significant event for the Iowa National Guard and the State of Iowa.  We can expect more than 3,500 Soldiers to deploy from this state at one time – nearly 50 percent of our Army National Guard strength. 

In today’s global security environment, we expect our National Guard Soldiers to mobilize and deploy for 12 months once every four to five years, and our Airmen for 45 days every 18 months.  This means the old mantra of “one weekend a month and two weeks a year” no longer applies to these citizen-warriors. 

Not including a BCT mobilization, we believe, on average, the Iowa National Guard will deploy between 800-1,200 Soldiers annually, as well as approximately 600 Airmen every 18 months.  Given the current environment, we believe, these are sustainable taskings.   

The Army Force Generation cycle and Air Expeditionary Force concept have changed expectations.  With these new models come increased pre-mobilization training and preparation requirements, which will cause our Soldiers and Airmen to spend more time away from families and jobs in the months and weeks preceding a deployment. 

Our members and their families are beginning to understand and come to terms with this new reality.  Employers, communities and policymakers must do so as well.  In order to sustain these deployment cycles, we must have a reserve component force that is predictable, accessible, manned, equipped and organized to serve as an effective part of the Joint Force.

The current state of our Active military in this age of persistent conflict leaves us no choice.  As the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve recently noted there is “no reasonable alternative to increased reliance on the reserve components.” 

Policymakers have accepted that the Active Army needs to grow – current plans call for adding nearly 75,000 Soldiers by 2010.  But recruiting these new Soldiers and developing the officers and non-commissioned officers to lead them will be a daunting and time-consuming challenge. 

This means continued reliance on reserve component forces for the foreseeable future.  Continued changes in laws, rules, regulations, personnel and funding systems at the Department of Defense and congressional levels are needed in order to sustain the National Guard as an essential part of the Nation’s all-volunteer force.

I’m talking about changes that improve readiness, modernize antiquated mobilization policies, and enhance current programs and organizations that support service members, their families and their employers not just before and during deployments, but also when they return home. 

Investments in training and equipment are meaningless if we turn our backs on the needs of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen when the deployment is over.  Not only is this a readiness issue for the National Guard – we need them for future missions – more importantly, it’s the right and honorable thing to do.  We must develop programs and regulations that fully accommodate the unique nature of reintegrating reserve component service members.

Promises to fully equip and resource the Army National Guard are promises that must be kept to our Soldiers.  They have served and sacrificed for our state and nation; they have proven their ability to accomplish their missions; and they have kept faith with the American people.  Now, we owe it to them and future Soldiers to keep our end of the bargain. 

In order to keep this promise, the Army must provide timely and predictable resources to the National Guard.  The Army has pledged to boost Army National Guard spending by $23 billion through 2011 and promised further increases in subsequent years. 

Although the Air National Guard transformed to an operational force many years ago, it too faces significant funding challenges.  It is faced with a rapidly-aging and overworked fleet of airplanes.  The Air Force will need to invest heavily over the next several years to recapitalize its force.

The Iowa Air National Guard will benefit if the Air Force succeeds in acquiring the necessary funds to rebuild what it calls the “required force." Initial plans call for stationing the KC-X Tanker at Sioux City and the F35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Des Moines International Airport.  This will ensure future flying missions for these Iowa units for years to come. 

In order to sustain these promises, Congress will need to maintain defense spending to a minimum of 4% of gross domestic product, a relatively low percentage compared to previous conflicts (38% WWII, 14% Korea, 10% Vietnam).

I realize that for the most part these are not policy issues that come before this body.  However, these are things that directly impact the condition of the Iowa National Guard.

The Iowa General Assembly and our Commander-in-Chief, Governor Culver, have been extremely supportive of our legislative proposals to help meet the needs of our Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, their families and their communities. 

We see this in the Iowa National Guard Education Assistance program, which is helping nearly 1,100 Soldiers and Airmen attend college this year. 

We see it in the state-matching dollars provided to the Guard to leverage federal military construction and maintenance funding to maintain and refurbish old armories and build future Readiness Centers in key demographic areas around the state. 

We see it in legislation that indirectly helps our Soldiers and Airmen, like the recently-enacted military leave bill and previous legislation to help returning veterans purchase a home or help family members care for a loved one injured in battle. 

Many of you continue to ask: “What more can we do for our Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen?” 

You have done, and are doing, all that we have asked of you.  Our Soldiers and Airmen are overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of support they receive from elected leaders and ordinary Iowans throughout the state who continue to send care packages and contribute their time and talents to causes that support our deployed service members. 

What our Soldiers and Airmen want more than anything else is your continued support.  They will endure any hardship and sacrifice beyond comprehension if they believe you still have faith in them.  These men and women have devoted their lives to serving others.   

I want to introduce you to some ordinary Iowans that serve their state and nation in extraordinary ways.  These men and women live throughout our state; they represent more than 9,500 Soldiers and Airmen, their family members and employers.  These individuals are making a difference in communities, across our great state, for the nation and indeed for people in dangerous spots around the world. 

The Iowa National Guard is an organization of opportunity, giving young Iowans reason to stay in our great state to serve others, give back to their communities and enrich their lives. 

Let me give you an example of one such man.  His name is Capt. David Harper, a traditional Soldier assigned to the Iowa Army National Guard’s 224th Engineer Battalion.  When he’s not serving in uniform, Capt. Harper is the Dean of Students at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa where he also coaches football, wrestling, basketball, track, and baseball.

Capt. Harper selflessly gives of his time and talents to the community of Packwood, Iowa.  He commits time to enhancing school facilities, performing maintenance for elderly and disadvantaged community members, delivering Thanksgiving meals, and spending time with youngsters through participation in the Big Brothers program. 

Capt. Harper has served his Community, State, and Nation in a selfless manner throughout his life.  He served more than 11 years as an Enlisted Soldier, including six months deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, on State Active Duty in support of the 1993 Floods, and most recently on Active Duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, from October 2004 –January 2006. 

Capt. Harper has chosen a career as an Educator, and a Soldier, in order to make a positive impact on the future of his community, state, and nation.  He embodies the traits, characteristics, and values that we espouse in our members.  He is a role model for all Iowans and a proud member of our Iowa National Guard officer corps. 

Capt. Harper, please stand and be recognized.  Thank you, Capt. Harper, you may be seated. 

Capt. Harper’s contributions are significant.  But he is one of many such men and women serving in the Iowa National Guard today.   

These next two individuals I want to introduce are also making significant contributions to Iowa.  Staff Sgt. Anthony R. Duong was our top recruiter last year, bringing 31 new Soldiers into the Iowa Army National Guard.  What is truly amazing about this is that he did it in the Sioux City market, an area of the state with smaller demographics and one that has never produced a top Army National Guard recruiter.

Also significant is the outstanding relationship that he has developed with the high schools in the area, particularly Sioux City North High School where he is an assistant wrestling coach and peer mentor.  Staff Sgt. Duong  has established an exceptional reputation among athletes, and the general student population, because they know that he is there to do more than just recruit for the Iowa National Guard.  He is there to invest in their school and to make a difference in the lives of young people in that community.

Sgt. 1st Class Steve Groon was selected as the national recipient of the In-Service Recruiter / Intra-State Transfer Coordinator award.  His sole mission was to talk Soldiers leaving Active Duty into coming to Iowa, where they could attend an Iowa college and serve in the Iowa National Guard.  And he did this better than anyone else in the nation.  Many of us talk about ways to get people to come to Iowa.  Sgt. 1st Class Groon did more than that – he turned talk into action by delivering 30 new Iowans to the state last year alone. 

  Staff Sgt. Duong and Sgt. 1st Class Groon, please stand and be recognized for your outstanding accomplishments!   Thank you, please be seated.

One of the unique things about Iowa is that it’s still a place where a small employer can have a big impact.  Augustine & Sons, a 2,000-acre grain and livestock operation near Rose Hill, Iowa with only two full-time employees, is a prime example of how size doesn’t matter.   

This family farm near Oskaloosa is the first Iowa recipient of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom award presented annually to employers for outstanding support to employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: this is a big deal!  There are only 15 such awards given each year in a country with millions of employers, large and small.  Augustine and Sons must have been one of the smallest.  In September of last year, they went to Washington to receive the award and met the president, the vice president and the secretary of defense.   A scheduled six minute photo op turned into a nearly hour-long conversation with President Bush.

Augustine & Sons is making a big difference for the family of 1st Sgt. Matt Strasser currently serving overseas with an Afghanistan National Army Training team.  But don’t take my word for it; listen to how 1st Sgt. Strasser describes what his employer has done for his family:

“Thank you for letting me come and go during my last few weeks of work so I could spend as much time with my family as possible. Thank you for allowing my family to live on the farm during my first deployment, rent-free (they are again providing this benefit).

“Thank you for taking my boys fishing, watching their sports games while I’m gone and fixing their dirt bikes. Thank you for watching them when they’re sick so my wife, Jessica, can go to work, and for flowers on our kitchen table when she’s had a rough day. Thank you for plowing winter’s snow from the drive and for taking time away from your own families to help mine.”

These are just a few of the things the Augustines have done for their employee.  There are many others.   One of our values is selfless service – Augustine & Sons has clearly demonstrated this enduring Iowa National Guard value. 

Continued employer support for our deployed Soldiers and Airmen is crucial.  1st Sgt. Strasser said it best: this support “allows us to do what we do with total commitment and the confidence that our families and our jobs will be safe.”

Dan, Mike and Keith Augustine please stand and be recognized for all you have done for this family.  Joining the Augustines are 1st Sgt. Strasser’s wife, Jessica and their two sons, Reese and Tyler.  Thank you, please be seated. 

One of the Iowa National Guard themes we wanted to emphasize this year is legacy of service.  To do so we selected two families to represent the many families that have chosen to serve their state and nation in the Iowa National Guard over multiple generations. 

But before I introduce them to you, there is another family I want you to meet that has earned an enduring place in our Iowa National Guard family.  For them and nearly 20 other Iowa National Guard families over the last six years, this distinction came at a horrendous price – the loss of a loved-one. 

A beloved husband and father, Master Sgt. Scott Carney died in a HUMVEE accident in Herat, Afghanistan on August 24, 2007.  Master Sgt. Carney left behind a beautiful wife, Jeni and two adoring sons, Jacob and Justin.  Through the loss of their loved-one, they learned the true meaning of service and sacrifice.  For them these are not mere words but consequential actions that have forever changed their family. 

Jeni, Jacob and Justin, though your loss is great, I hope you find some small measure of comfort in knowing that Scott’s legacy and dedication to serving others lives on in the men and women of the Iowa National Guard – a family to which you will always belong.

Jeni, you have been an inspiration to us during this most difficult time for your family.

Thank you…please be seated.

The Corell family has a long and proud military legacy.  A great uncle served as a general officer during World War I.  Grandfather Benjamin Preston fought in World War II as a Marine in the Pacific earning 3 Bronze Stars at Guadalcanal and two Corells, a father and uncle, served in the Marine Corps after the Korean War.

Staff Sgt. Wade Corell, a full-time Active Guard and Reserve Soldier, enlisted in the 1-133 in 2000.  He is an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran. 

Sgt. Travis Corell, an Active Guard and Reserve recruiter for the Iowa Army National Guard in the Waterloo area, also enlisted into the 1-133rd in 2000 and is an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran.
Sgt. Tyler Corell enlisted into the 1-133 in 2002, where he currently serves as a Rifle Team Leader.  He is both an Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

In 2005, when the 1-133 was alerted for active duty, Col. Ben Corell was the battalion commander and all three of his sons served under him.  His wife asked that he take only one son with him on the deployment.  Tyler insisted he choose him. 

In all, more than 50 family members deployed with the 1-133 to Iraq – an enduring example of our Iowa National Guard family legacy of service. 

Family legacies are not unique to the Army National Guard.  The Iowa Air National Guard has many as well. 

The Kenagy family is a wonderful example of an Iowa Air National Guard family legacy.  For three generations, the Kenagy’s have served their state and nation in an exemplarily manner. 

Sr. Master Sgt. Dwight Kenagy served in the Air Guard for more than 30 years including a deployment with the 185th Fighter Wing to Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. 

Master Sgt. David Kenagy enlisted in the Air Guard in 1992 as a traditional Airman and in 1995 became a full-time technician working in the area of Aircraft Flight equipment.

Senior Airman Keith Kenagy is currently serving on Operation Jump Start in the Arizona desert building roads. 

Airmen 1st Class Brian Kenagy serves in the electric shop at the 185th Air Refueling Wing and will start college in the fall.

And last, but certainly not least, Dannette Kenagy, has represented the 185th Family Readiness Group since 1994 and has served as a state council representative in our family readiness program for many years.

David and I have a unique history I’d like to take a few moments to share with you. 

Twelve years ago I ejected from an F-16 on takeoff after a catastrophic engine failure.  I experienced a successful ejection and thankfully everything worked as advertized. 

The young man that packed my parachute that day was Dave Kenagy.  Here is one General that is extremely happy he chose to work in the parachute shop and that he was and is a true professional in every sense of the word. 

Thanks, Dave, for your dedicated service and a job well done!

At this time, I’d ask the Kenagy and Corell families to please stand and be recognized for the multiple generations of service these and many other Iowa National Guard families have given to their state and nation!

Thank you, please be seated.   

Today, nearly 1,500 Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are serving or preparing to serve on active duty in support of the global war on terror. 

In the past year, nearly 800 returned from deployments.  I’d like to highlight a few of their accomplishments.

Soldiers and Airmen: Please stand as I recognize your units and remain standing until I complete my comments.

The 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, deployed more than 560 members in the spring of 2006 to the Iraqi province of al-Anbar, at that time, one of the most dangerous parts of the country. 

During their deployment, they: 
• Completed more than 500 security convoy missions;
• Logged more 4.4 million mission miles, delivering over one-third of the fuel needed to sustain coalition forces in Iraq;
• Captured and processed over 60 insurgents; and
• Discovered 10 weapons caches.

Originally scheduled to return home in April 2007, the 1-133rd’s deployment was extended four months by the “Surge,” making their’s the longest continuous deployment of any National Guard unit during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and earning them the distinction of being the longest serving Iowa military unit since World War II. 

Two Soldiers from the unit were Killed-in-Action, Sgt. 1st Class Scott E. Nisely and Sgt. Kampha B. Sourivong, during combat operations near Al Asad, Iraq, on Sept. 30, 2006. 

The unit received 116 Improvised Explosive Device strikes and had 35 Soldiers awarded the Purple Heart for injuries received during enemy attacks.

Thirty Soldiers earned Bronze Stars, three with V device for Valor, 73 earned Combat Action Badges, 396 earned Combat Infantry Badges, 24 earned Combat Medic Badges, and 196 earned the Army Commendation Medals, 11 with V device. 

277 Soldiers had previously deployed and more than 81 percent of eligible Soldiers reenlisted during the deployment. 

This unit’s incredible journey was captured by the CBS program ‘‘60 Minutes’’, which devoted an entire hour to telling the story of the Ironman Battalion.  The program, titled “Fathers, Sons and Brothers,” was a unique, one-of-a-kind project that showed the National Guard and the state of Iowa in a very favorable light. 

The unit is represented here today by Col. Ben Corell, the Battalion Commander and his son, Sgt. Tyler Corell.

The 16-Soldier Afghan National Army-Combat Service Support Embedded Training Team (ANA-CSS ETT) provided advanced logistical and combat service support training to the Afghan National Army.  The team was part of a multi-national effort to ensure the safety and prosperity of the country of Afghanistan and the Afghan people. 

The ETT trained Afghan Army and local police, secured cities and towns, opened new schools, donated supplies, and aided the economic and industrial development of Gardez.  They performed more than 120 Combat missions with the Afghan National Army while conducting resupply mission within their area of operations. 

The ANA training team is represented here today by Capt. Steve Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. John Brietsprecker. 

The 1034th Combat Service Support Battalion deployed 76 Soldiers – 23 had previously deployed – to Iraq in early August 2006, where the unit conducted multi-functional logistics operations at Logistical Support Area (LSA) Anaconda near Balad, Iraq.

During the last 14-month deployment, the 1034th CSSB operated the largest logistics base in the Iraqi theater of operations, managed more than 1,800 assigned Soldiers, monitored the issuance of more than 32 short tons of ammunition, managed more than $100 million dollars of equipment, and improved the overall operational readiness rate of equipment to 92 percent.

Twenty-one Soldiers earned Bronze Stars Medals. 

The 1034th is represented here today by Lt. Col. Dave Verdi and Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Peterson. 

Company C, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Battalion (Air Assault) mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 11, 2006 and deployed overseas in September 2006.

Based at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad, Company C conducted combat operations throughout Iraq, including battlefield circulation, VIP transport, and air assault missions.  In June, the unit conducted several air assaults in support of the start of surge operations in Diyala province.  Company C led its battalion in mission execution, conducting 740 missions and accumulating more 7,850 flight hours. 

Just to give you an idea of the operations tempo this unit experienced during their deployment, in an average year back in Iowa, the unit typically has about 1300 flight hours.  This means they accumulated six years of flight time in one year – in a combat environment without a single aviation accident or injury.  And thankfully, they completed the deployment without a single aircraft being shot down – only minor battle damage from small arms fire.

Soldiers in the unit earned 28 Combat Action Badges, 13 Bronze Stars, 60 Air Medals and 12 Army Commendation Medals. 

Co. C is represented here today by 1st Lt. Eric M. Nelson and Chief Warrant Officer Four Joedy VanVelzen.

These Iowa National Guard Citizen Soldiers have once again demonstrated the Citizen-Soldiers of the Iowa Army National Guard can, and will, perform above and beyond the call to duty. 

The Iowa Air National Guard has also deployed a number of its members in support of the Global War on Terror. 

Its Medical Group team, represented here today by Lt. Col. Mark Davis, volunteered for deployment to Iraq where they believed their civilian expertise and experience could save lives and lessen the effects of personal injuries. 

They left the confines and security of the base and instituted a one-of-a-kind critical care initiative, treating Iraqi civilians in their local communities, which provided much-needed hands-on care and life-saving treatment. 

The team completed more than 20 air evacuations; provided sick call services for hundreds of Army and Air Force personnel; provided tactical Combat Care training; and compassionately counseled the U.S. Army Mortuary staff struggling with their difficult duties.

Lt. Col. Davis has been named the Air National Guard Outstanding Biomedical Sciences Officer and Outstanding Physician Assistant of the Year.

Col Jennifer Walters, Capt. Christopher Latcham, and Chief Master Sgt. Sean Larson from the 132nd Fighter Wing deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where they supported nearly 1,400 deployed Airmen in 35 austere locations throughout the country. 

They conducted multiple command visits, assisted with the first Air Force Provincial Team rotations; resolved request for fillers and in-lieu-of conflicts;  initiated retasking of Airmen; assisted with the reconstruction of roads, bridges, wells, schools, and district and community centers; participated in humanitarian assistance missions; and conducted de-mining, unexploded ordinance and weapons caches missions.

As we all know, the National Guard is unique among our Nation’s military services because of its role in coming to the aid of civilian authorities in times of natural disasters and emergencies. 

Few missions are as satisfying for members of the National Guard than coming to the aid of a neighbor in need. 

Over the July 4th holiday last summer, 26 members of the Iowa National Guard did just that when they deployed to Fredonia, Kan. to provide water purification services to the town’s 2,600 residents.  Fredonia’s municipal water supply was contaminated by extensive flooding.

One day they were grilling hamburgers in Iowa celebrating the Fourth of July and the next they were purifying water in Kansas. 

Before it was all said and done, these Iowa National Guard Soldiers provided more than 3.1 million gallons of potable water for their Kansas neighbors.  Those of you who remember the floods of 1993 can really appreciate what this meant for the residents of Fredonia.

Ladies and Gentlemen: These are your Soldiers and Airmen who have served their state and nation this past year!

Thank you, please be seated. 

Few of us will forget the one – two punch of the ice storm/blizzard combination that nearly shut down the state last February.  There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Iowa blizzard to remind us of the importance of our state mission. 

And when that call came, the men and women of the Iowa Guard Team were ready.  Nearly 600 Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen responded with the skill and professionalism the citizens of this state have come to expect.  We conducted generator missions, highway assistance team support, provided armories for shelters, and even transported an expectant mother stranded in Marshalltown to Des Moines for medical care. 

Let me share with you a little story about the uniqueness of the Iowa National Guard that was brought home to the Governor and I during the Guard’s response to this snow storm. 
Gov. Culver and I were traveling around the affected area when we stopped in Toledo for a briefing.  We walked in and there stood two Iowa National Guard Soldiers, Maj. Todd Lucas and 1st Sgt. Willie Adams, running the Guard’s storm response operations. 

I said, “Governor you’re not going to believe this but the last time I saw these two was in Sharan, Afghanistan – 15 miles from the Pakistan border – where they were serving as part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team.”   

This story, more than any other, encapsulates the uniqueness of our mission – From Prairie Soldier to Global Minuteman; we are the Iowa National Guard!

Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks for listening to my comments, and thank you for your continued support of the men and women who proudly serve in the Iowa National Guard. 

May God continue to bless you and your families, the great state of Iowa and the United States of America!

Thank you!

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.